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Thomas Bewick, Cameleopard, c. 1820. Wood engraving 7.2 x 7.7 cm. Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, gift of Mr. David E. Lemon, Vancouver, 1990.
The AGA has in its collection 830 wood engravings by British artist Thomas Bewick that he created with his apprentices in the late-18th century. The images, referred to by Bewick as “tale-pieces,” are illustrations for publications printed around 1797. They are imagined studies of animals and birds created using the classifications systems of the day and referenced contemporary practices of recording natural history. The illustrations were divided into categories for two publications: A General History of Quadrupeds and A History of British Birds, which were reprinted numerous times due to their popularity. The images are fascinating in the technical execution of the small illustrations and because many were created from the imagination of the artist based on descriptions from expedition reports and second-hand accounts. This exhibition features a selection of over 200 images depicting both animals and birds.
The Thomas Bewick collection was gifted to the AGA in 1990 by Dr. David Lemon.
THOMAS BEWICK: Imagination Field Guide is organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and curated by Kristy Trinier.